On October 19, 2021, Daniel Santulli, a Phi Gamma Delta pledge at University of Missouri, was “directed to consume an entire bottle of Vodka. He drank three fourths of it, passed out and became unresponsive,” reported Columbia Daily Tribune. Santulli had to be revived when he was taken to the University Hospital in cardiac arrest. According to Santulli’s Family’s attorney, he suffered “massive brain damage and is now blind and unable to walk.”
This is only one of the many cases of hazing reported by Phi Gamma Delta chapters, commonly known as FIJI, throughout the nation in the past few years. The Mizzou case, however, has put a lot of pressure on FIJI’s national chapter to rethink its policies regarding pledgeship. “Mizzou didn’t kick it off, but it’s definitely a big part of it, mainly the trend of alcohol being involved and people being hospitalized, which obviously the Nationals didn’t want,” Bradley Johnson, the President of the Psi Chapter of FIJI at Wabash, said. “The nationals viewed the root cause of hazing to there being a hierarchy in the house which came out as brothers versus pledges, so they’re ultimately aiming to get rid of pledgeship altogether.
That’s not where we’re at right now, but that’s probably just two or three years away.”Wabash is one of the few colleges around the nation where students can live in a fraternity for all four years, and pledgeship plays a crucial role in allowing the brothers to know their pledges and the other way around. “Since we’re going to have a much smaller time to get to know people, it’s going to be easier for us to remove people from the house, at least from a bylaw standpoint, and we are also going to be way more selective during rush and while giving out bids.” FIJI’s national chapter has asked all the chapters to cut back on the duration of pledgeship, and by 2024, pledgeship would run only for four days till all the pledges are initiated.
“When fraternities were first created, it wasn’t based off of an idea that you had to prove that you want to be in, it was more about if the brothers wanted you to be a part of the house,” said Jehan Boyers, one of the New Member Educators for this year’s pledge class. “I think that’s the direction our national chapter wants us to head towards,” said Boyers. “Right now we’re mostly in a transitional phase, where we’re preparing for other major changes that we see in the next few years.”
“When fraternities were first created, it wasn’t based off of an idea that you had to prove that you want to be in, it was more about if the brothers wanted you to be a part of the house.” said FIJI Jehan Boyers ’25.
Wabash is a college that is rooted in traditions, and a major part of these traditions are the Homecoming events, including Chapel Sing and float making.
“Wabash FIJI is different compared to other houses, since it has never been much about hazing, but more about traditions and other things that are unique to Wabash. So traditions like Chapel Sing practices and making the homecoming float is not something that’s going to go away with change in rules,” Boyers said.
“I’m sure there might have been times where they might have had to go through things together and which would have brought them closer, but in the end, it has never just been about building brotherhood among the freshmen, but building brotherhood with the whole house,” Boyers said. “So, as long as we can provide that, the upcoming classes will have as good of a fraternity life as it was for people twenty years ago.”